Good morning and welcome to Monday’s podcast. My name is Alan and it is a real privilege to be taking you through the next few chapters of Acts this week. A big thank you to James for last week’s podcasts and I hope to tee up Liam well for his input next week.
Today’s passage is Acts 5:27-42, I am going to focus on v38-39:
For if their [the apostles] purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
A question to get the cogs whirring this morning: When have you been most conscious of God at work in your life? When the chips are down and the pressure mounts, what are the moments in your life that you look back on when you knew that God is with you, he’s for you and he’s really rather fond of you?
I have recently taken on the leadership of STC Training – the latest incarnation of Form or STC College, YAPS or Tribal Training. It’s the question I asked each of the 5 new trainees when we were doing introductions. Their responses varied wildly, from healings to provision of a job and volunteering role, to breakthroughs in mission, to the overwhelming presence of God in times of brokenness and loss.
You see… God is good! He has a plan for our lives. He has designed us to live fruitful abundant lives. In fact our fruitfulness will bear testimony to the fact that we are Christians, that we have been with Jesus and his Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our lives.
So we look back and we remember the moments when God has shown up and revealed himself, we praise God and we are thankful… but it doesn’t stop there. Instead it leads us on to think about today. Are we conscious of God working in our lives today? Are we aware of his presence and his prompting in our ordinary, everyday lives? Are we being fruitful? Are our lives overflowing and abundant?
In today’s passage the apostles are in front of the very same court that very recently condemned Jesus to death. They have been in the temple courts healing, preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus. They were arrested, thrown in prison, busted out by an angel and then went straight back to the temple courts and continued doing the very thing, in the very place that they had been arrested for before.
What conviction. What courage. The court wants to put them to death… the court has previous form…
And then a prophet stands before them and says:
… if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
There is a scene in the Lion King – one of my favourite films – where Simba has lost his way. He is met by a vision of his dead father in the clouds… in the vision his father says to him, “You have forgotten who you are, and so forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become.”
The same is true of every one of us. God hasn’t set us apart to make our lives a little bit better. He has set us apart to be salt and light, to shine like stars, to reclaim lives that have been lost to darkness and destruction. He has called us and gifted us to demonstrate how life is supposed to be lived, a life of love, kindness and generosity, free! Free from fear and more than conquerors! Not because we are awesome but because HE is awesome; not because we are strong but because we are weak… and in weakness we have learnt to trust him, to speak for him and to love others on his behalf.
If our ordinary everyday activity is of human origin – if we do what we please, when we please, because we feel like it, then our endeavours will fail… but if our activity is from God… if we wake up to his voice, to his daily promptings, if we pursue him and discover who he has made us to be… no-one and nothing – NO-ONE AND NOTHING will be able to stop us because anyone or anything that tries will be fighting against God… because no-one messes with our dad.
Some of us already know what God has called us to do… are we doing it? Or have the threats, disappointments, knock backs or simply the busyness of family life meant that we have allowed our focus to shift. Or maybe we are not sure what or why God would call anyone like us. We are yet to really learn who we are in Jesus and what unique purpose he has chosen us for… Keep seeking him, keep asking and keep doing the things Jesus tells us to do in the Bible. Keep on keeping on, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Father, thank you that you in your wisdom thought it a good idea to call us to be your children, that as your children we have the privilege of taking part in the family business. Show us who and show us how today, trusting the promise that if you are for us, who can be against us! Amen.
READING: Acts 5:27-42
The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,’ he said. ‘Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.’
Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead – whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.’
When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honoured by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: ‘Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.’
His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.